Antifa activists clashed with Donald Trump supporters at a free speech rally in Boston on Friday, leading to at least two arrests, the Boston Herald is reporting.
What was billed by Trump supporters as a “Free Speech Rally” at Boston Common quickly turned into a clash of ideologies as the two sides, both numbering into the hundreds of people, began shouting, scuffling, and later, throwing punches. Herald reporter Jordan Graham observed that both sides came to the event expecting violence: members of both sides were observed wearing protective sporting equipment, goggles, and helmets. Others carried flagpoles, umbrellas, and sticks.
— NBC Boston (@nbcboston) May 14, 2017
Boston police, for their part, tried to keep the two sides separated and on opposite sides of the park – a tactic that only worked for so long. By early afternoon, protesters on both sides of the issue were crossing the line and approaching their opponents, shouting angry slogans.
“No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!”
A protester on the pro-Trump side wearing a military uniform, according to the Boston Globe, encouraged Antifa protesters to find a new place to live if they don’t care for Trump’s America.
“I suggest you get a job and then you move out to whatever country you want, since you don’t like it [here] so much.”
Things got even uglier, according to Esquire. From one side came shouts of “Nazi scum!” From the other came shouts of “Commie fa***t!”
Later, someone on the Antifa side burned an American flag. A teenager girl who identified herself as an area high school student threw a rock at the pro-Trump side.
— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) May 13, 2017
At 1:45 p.m., a protester on the Trump side attempted to make a joke: 28-year-old Salvatore Guytano Cippola, of Oceanside, N.Y., crossed the police barrier and attempted to hand a counter-protester a Pepsi (a reference to an infamous Pepsi commercial in which Kendall Jenner, at a protest, attempts to hand a Pepsi to a police officer). Nineteen-year-old Elise Hinman, of Clovis, Calif., didn’t see the humor in it (apparently it was the fourth time that day that someone had tried to make the same joke), and the two began scuffling. Cippola then threw a punch; both Cippola and Hinman were arrested and charged with affray (that is, public fighting, a first-degree misdemeanor in Massachusetts).
More scenes from Boston Common, where both pro- and anti-Trump crowds have grown: pic.twitter.com/XeOJTlUwYJ
— Max Larkin (@jmlarkin) May 13, 2017
When the dust had settled, Paul Weiskel, who claims to have organized the counter-protest, called the day a success.
“We’re trying to show that Boston stands against hate. It’s clear to the public walking through the Common that there’s plenty of people who are very uncomfortable with the rhetoric and the symbols that are being used by the alt-right.”
A 29-year-old Trump supporter, speaking to the Globe, said that counter-protesters seem to have the wrong idea when it comes to free speech.
“It’s a new definition of free speech where if you don’t agree with that opinion, you start labeling it as hate speech. That’s not real free speech.”
The pro-Trump side was made up of individuals from Oathkeepers, Connecticut Militia, Massachusetts Militia, New York Militia, and AP3 from different states, according to NECN. Opponents, some operating under the banner of Antifa (a European anti-fascist group that may or may not be operating in the U.S.), came from a variety of different places, most with no affiliation to larger groups.
[Featured Image by KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Thinkstock]